How Bayern Munich Destroyed German Football: All The Bullying
The big picture in this series cannot be complete without each part of it explored. This is why I encourage people to check out previous posts before getting to this one.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ugly Side Of Financial Fair Play
Part 3: Before The Berlin Wall Fell
part 4: Before The Berlin Wall Fell Part 2
Part 5: After The Berlin Wall Fell
Part 6: The Kirch Group Deal
If there is a verdict that we cannot accept, the consequence would be that we would pull out of all bodies [ruling German soccer]
The Bundesliga will have to see how they go without us. We'll join the league in Italy and play against Milan and Rome.
The quotes above are credited to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer respectively. They were responding to the fact that the German Football Association was close to ruling against them in their role in the The Kirch Group Deal we spoke of earlier. But, before we get to Bayern Munich's response, let's answer one question:
How Do We Know That The Details Leaked Are Real?
Well, Kirch Group declared bankruptcy in 2002, 2 years after the beginning of the deal between Kirch Group and the league. That's when it was discovered that Kirch Group was hundreds of millions in debt. The Kirch Group's deal with the Bundesliga was 4 years long, during which Kirch Group would have to pay a total of one billion. Obviously, Kirch Group wasn't able to pay the rest of the contract.
Manager Magazine, a sub-magazine for Der Spiegel, the famous media company in Germany, claimed that the magazine has acquired the contract signed between Kirch Group and Bayern Munich and shared some of its details. Now, they can't share the actual contract because it's private. But, they were able to share some details. That prompted Bayern Munich to say it's false.
However, that was a trap to make Bayern Munich lie enabling Manager Magazine to share the full contract since it turned out they did have the actual contract. That's when the German FA started investigating the crimes with a few punishments in mind. The suspected list of punishments goes as followed:
Forcing Bayern Munich to return all the extra money they made through the secret contract. That money will be redistributed among all other Bundesliga clubs.
Fining Bayern Munich. This is of course separate from the first one.
Legal ramifications, including deducting points from Bayern Munich.
There were also some voices, including a board member in Hamburger SV, that demanded the 2000-2001 season title, which Bayern won, be withdrawn. The reason for that is because as we said in the last part, it was the season they spent over 20 million to sign Claudio Pizarro, Robert Kovac, and Niko Kovac from Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen, and Hamburger SV respectively, citing that the money used to fund those deals was of course not legal.
So, Bayern used the money they shouldn't have in the first place to weaken their competition. This angered everyone in Germany.
Bayern's responses to this scandal were disgustingly hilarious. Uli Hoeneß actually said that
We did not take the money from the Bundesliga or from any other club, only from Mr (Kirch group head Leo) Kirch. He's the only one who could complain. I don't think anybody in the Bundesliga is in a position to give us a morality lesson. We did not harm anybody.
Completely overlooking the fact that they pressured the other clubs to sign the deal with the lie that they agreed to the deal as it is. Every time people spoke to Rummenigge he'd respond that the club is going to go to Italy. Beckenbauer was very strict stating that they wouldn't pay a cent and even challenged the Bundesliga to start the league without them, that same Beckenbauer, by the way, was nominated in 2015 to join FIFA's ethics committee.
So, how did it end? Well, Uli Hoeneß said that they would pay a small fine of 3-4 million for taking over 40 million in secret plus scamming the other clubs. The German FA agreed even though they stated earlier that what Bayern did was morally disgusting.
The German FA probably agreed for one of two reasons, A) They might have found that they actually can't legally persecute Bayern Munich or, B) They were afraid that Bayern Munich would actually end up joining the Serie A. By the way, it was very possible for Bayern Munich to do that and there were such plans, so it wasn't just a threat.
Arrogance And Bullying Won
There's no other way to describe it, Bayern Munich used their name to bully the FA and other clubs to avoid getting punished and there was no other choice for the rest but to submit. This, sadly, takes to a side question, is Bayern Munich the only club that'd behave this way? The answer is no.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, and England's top clubs would behave the same way. The problem is while rest would, Bayern actually did. Not only Bayern wasn't punished, but the club also rejected the idea of having a point deduction even though it didn't even mean they could lose the league. There was actually no way for the law and order to win in this scenario.
When Liverpool and Manchester United presented Project Big Picture as a suggestion, they were slaughtered by the media, and it was just a suggestion. You can't control the intentions of big clubs, but the least you could and should do is lay down a set of laws to prevent them, along with the media criticising those clubs. That's a whole other problem in Germany.
No one can criticize Bayern Munich in Germany. It is very easy for Uli Hoeneß to threaten Germany boycott if Joachim Low drops Manuel Neuer for Marc-Andre ter Stegen. That's a club president saying that his club won't let players join the national team if the first-choice goalkeeper isn't from his club. The issue isn't whether Neuer should have played or not. I consider Neuer to be the best goalkeeper I ever saw.
But, for someone to make such a threat and not get punished or even criticised in the media while behaving like club owners in the third world without anyone reacting whatsoever is just shocking. It's bullying in its worst form because it leads to an empty circle where no one could compete with Bayern, as we will see soon.
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I have been enjoying reading each part so far and this is fascinating to see what they have got up to and got away with it at the same time.
Thank you very much for this comment. And yeah, the more details I searched the more shocking it was.